Association between high aflatoxin B1 levels and high viral load in HIV-positive people.
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Since both aflatoxin and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cause immune suppression, chronic exposure to aflatoxin in HIV-positive people could lead to higher levels of virus replication. This study was conducted to examine the association between aflatoxin B1 albumin adduct (AF-ALB) levels and HIV viral load. Antiretroviral naive HIV-positive people (314) with median CD4 count of 574 cells/μl blood (mean ± standard deviation = 630±277) were recruited in Kumasi, Ghana. Sociodemographic and health data, and blood samples were collected from participants. The plasma samples were tested for AF-ALB and HIV viral load. Univariate logistic regression analysis was conducted using viral load (high/low) as the outcome and AF-ALB quartiles as exposure. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed between quartile AF-ALB, viral load and CD4 adjusting for sex, age, and year of HIV diagnosis. Both univariate and multivariable logistic regression showed that viral load increased as AF-ALB levels increased. By univariate analysis, high viral load was 2.3 times more likely among persons in the third AF-ALB quartile (95% confidence interval (Cl): 1.13, 4.51), and 2.9 times more likely among persons in the fourth AF-ALB quartile (Cl: 1.41, 5.88), compared to persons in the first quartile. In the multivariable model, persons in the fourth AF-ALB quartile were about 2.6 times more likely to have high viral loads than persons in the first quartile (Cl: 1.19-5.69). When AF-ALB and viral load were log transformed and linear regression analysis conducted, the univariate linear regression analysis showed that for each pg/mg increase in AF-ALB, viral load increased by approximately 1.6 copies/ml (P=0.0006). The association was marginally significant in the adjusted linear regression model (i.e. for each pg/mg increase in AF-ALB, the mean viral load increased by approximately 1.3 copies/ml, P=0.073). These data show strong and consistent increases in HIV viral load with increasing AF-ALB levels. Since the median and mean CD4 were greater than 500 cells for participants in each AF-ALB quartile, the results indicate that the immune modulating and virus transcription effects of aflatoxin may occur quite early in HIV infection, even while the CD4 count is still above 500, resulting in higher viral loads.
author list (cited authors)
Jolly, P. E., Inusah, S., Lu, B., Ellis, W. O., Nyarko, A., Phillips, T. D., & Williams, J. H.